Highland Catholic School among those observing national walkout day

| March 14, 2018 | 0 Comments

From left, eighth-grade students Abigail Johnson, Lili Rojas, Luke Patwell, Lucy Rymanowski and Lucy Kammueller of Highland Catholic School in St. Paul silently pray with other middle school students March 14 to raise awareness of gun violence in schools and to honor the 17 people who died in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Feb. 14. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Highland Catholic School kindergarten teacher Molly Stucker found a student’s comment surprising but telling as she drew blinds on the east-facing windows of her classroom.

“He blurted it out in front of the class: ‘Are we having a lockdown?’ like he was nervous about that situation,” Stucker recalled the student asking. “It made me think, ‘Oh, times have changed.’”

School shootings have been on the minds of students since Feb. 14, when 17 people — 14 students and three teachers — were shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. A national walkout took place at public schools around the U.S. March 14, the one-month anniversary of the shooting. Catholic schools, such as Highland Catholic in St. Paul, participated in prayer or times of silence in lieu of the 17-minute 10 a.m. protests of U.S. gun laws.

More than 100 Highland Catholic middle school students, teachers and parents gathered on the school’s front steps for 17 minutes of silence and prayer. They lit 17 blue candles in memory of the people who died, and students held signs pasted on orange paper in honor of each deceased individual.

“We’re honoring the lives that were lost,” said seventh-grader Maddie Haider.

She and fellow middle school student Lily Anderson organized the prayer service. Students also wrote petitions, which were prayed in the gym following the time of silence outside.

“We’ve been learning about Catholic social teaching and the life and the dignity of the human person,” Anderson said. “After that shooting, we just felt that it [gun violence in schools] needed to be fixed and thought that we’d do something about it.”

Students from Highland Catholic School in St. Paul participate in a prayer vigil on its steps March 14. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Other Catholic schools around the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis held similar observances at 10 a.m. Those included prayer services or times of silence at Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield, Bethlehem Academy in Faribault, Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria and Convent of the Visitation School in Mendota Heights.

Providence Academy in Plymouth offered a symposium after school for juniors and seniors to discuss gun violence. St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights incorporated prayer during its 10 a.m. morning formation when the students assemble, and St. Agnes School in St. Paul already had its school Mass at that time.

In St. Louis Park, Benilde-St. Margaret’s students walked out, although the activity was not an official school event. Students distributed information about legislators and voter registration for seniors.

At Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul, students walked out, but without the school’s sanction. CDH students also participated in a walkout March 7 from nearby Central High School to the State Capitol in St. Paul.

The national movement, at 10 a.m. in all time zones in the U.S., was organized primarily by youths working with EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March, which organized marches for women’s rights in Washington and many other cities after President Donald Trump took office.

Another nationwide school walkout is scheduled for April 20, the 19th anniversary of the school shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. A related event is the “March for Our Lives” youth-led demonstration March 24 in Washington, where 500,000 are expected to attend. Other demonstrations will take place in several U.S. cities to protest current gun laws.

Catholic News Service contributed to this story.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Featured, Local News